Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace says the League Two club still hope to be spared relegation from the EFL because he assumes Macclesfield Town will get a points deduction.
When clubs voted almost unanimously to end the season on Tuesday, Stevenage were bottom, three points adrift and with a worse goal difference.
But Macclesfield’s financial struggles may now count against them.
They have been docked 11 points and Stevenage believe there may be more.
The Silkmen were issued with further misconduct charges by the English Football League on 1 June, relating to the payment of salaries due in March, but the club say they will appeal.
“It’s definitely not the end for us,” Wallace told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s a process. We are 24th but it is subject to the disciplinary procedures against Macclesfield.
“They have a charge to answer for not paying players on time. That’s the sixth time this season. There is a definite competitive advantage gained by doing that.
“There should be consequences, there always has been in the past so I assume there will be a points deduction.”
‘Relegation not the fairest way’
Although Wallace is quietly confident that Stevenage may now stay up and extend their stay in the EFL to an 11th season, he also maintains that he is unhappy at the way this has been concluded – and still does not see why any League Two club had to be relegated.
“The fairer way would have been for one or two clubs to come up from the National League and go to 25 clubs for one season,” he added. “Then put that right next season in terms of balancing the numbers again.
“I just can’t see the downside to that. And I’m disappointed that we couldn’t see through the woods to use it as a solution.
“We were keen to put our proposal across. The FA and EFL would have probably approved it so it’s disappointing that this hasn’t been adopted.
“But we live in a democratic world and we’ve all had our say.”
Wallace also admits that, having won just three times in 37 league games this season, Stevenage’s current predicament is one that they got themselves into.
“We don’t know what league we’re going to be in,” he added. “We don’t even know if we’re going to be in existence. But we got ourselves into this. Nobody threw us at the bottom of the league. So we do have an element of culpability.”
Wallace also knows the financial implications if they were to go down.
“The National League do not have streaming in place,” he added.
“They can’t go back until the crowds go back. Their clubs rely on paying gates, fans coming into the stadium, bars, programmes etc.
“But, in the EFL, all the games can be streamed. We’re quite optimistic with the steaming, at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. It’s never been done before. But, in the National League, it will be a disaster.”
Dig for victory, says Alex boss Artell
Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell’s first reaction at hearing his side had won promotion was that at last he could put his spade down – from digging his back garden.
“It’s a bit of a relief,” Artell told BBC Radio Stoke. “It’s given me a rest from digging the garden, which has been my life for the last eight weeks.
“But it’s not about me, it’s about the players. They deserve huge credit.”
The only slight downside is that Crewe do not go up as champions having led the division when it was halted in mid-March, but in second place, to Swindon Town. The Robins had a greater points-per-game ratio, on account of their match in hand.
But Artell adds: “I don’t think anyone would begrudge us promotion. It’s nine games earlier than we’d have liked but we’ve done it fairly comfortably. And the way we were playing when the season stopped, I was fancying us to go on and win the league.
“I was always quietly confident that we were going to have a good season. There are very few games in which we haven’t given a good account of ourselves. And we’ve worked hard for it. I’m a great believer that hard work will always get your rewards in the end.
“But make no bones about it, this is the easiest part of our journey. Now we’ve got to go again. We’re better than it being about just staying up.
“And that’s got to be the aim in League One next season.”
Lowe secures promotion double
The other two successful League One bosses to enjoy automatic promotion – Swindon Town’s Richie Wellens and Plymouth Argyle’s Ryan Lowe – are, like 39-year-old Artell, some of the younger managers in the division.
Wellens, 40, achieved success in only his first full season in management, just as 41-year-old Lowe did a year ago with Bury – and has done again now at Home Park.
“We’re now just looking forward to testing ourselves against stronger opposition,” Lowe said. “But we have to do it right. We know a lot of things are going to change in football over the next 12 months.”
The irony for Lowe is that when he took doomed Bury up to League One a year ago, it was at Argyle’s expense. And his first thought was for the Pilgrims supporters.
“It’s what we set out to achieve,” he added. “But it’s still something special, especially for the fans after a turbulent season last year being relegated.
“It’s nice to have back to back promotions in only my second full season. I know there’s managers who have been going 20 years and not had a promotion. But the only thing were thinking about right now is getting this club back in League One. And that’s what we’ve done.”
Swindon boss Wellens told the Swindon Advertiser: “We wanted to win it on the pitch because we were the best team in the league. But I’m so proud of all the players. And the supporters should be very proud too because the connection between players and fans has been great.
“The atmosphere at home games was fantastic, the away games sold out and that feel-good factor the fans created has made this happen.”